How to move Convos to a new server

Posted by Jan Henning Thorsen on 18. Dec, 2021.

We had to move Convos to DigitalOcean, since the old server had disk issues. Moving Convos was not too hard, but there were some issues getting connected to afterwards.

The move was simple because...

The move

Here are the five steps I did in order to move Convos:

  1. Copy the docker compose file over to the server and run it to get Convos installed. This can also be done remotely though, but requires poking holes in the firewall.

    rsync -va docker-compose $NEW_SERVER:~
    ssh $NEW_SERVER 'sudo docker-compose -p convos -f docker-compose/convos.yaml up -d'
  2. After running docker-compose, you should make sure that the reverse proxy works as expected, without actually changing the DNS records first. nginx-proxy is used for a close to zero config setup.

    ssh $NEW_SERVER 'curl -s -H "Host:" http://localhost' | grep 'convos:'
    curl -s -H "Host:" http://$NEW_SERVER | grep 'convos:'

    The first check can fail if nginx-proxy or Convos is not set up correctly inside Docker. The second check can fail if the host's firewall is not set up correctly. If both commands give you some "meta content" output, then you're good to go.

  3. Stop Convos on the new server, since it currently does not have the correct data. Doing this with a quick-and-dirty command that stops all the running containers, since Docker does not run anything else interesting:

    ssh $NEW_SERVER 'sudo docker stop $(sudo docker ps -q)'
  4. Copy the Convos data from the old server to the new server. Going to do this twice: Once while Convos is running and then one time after it was stopped to be sure we get all the data.

    ssh $OLD_SERVER 'rsync -va ~/.local/share/convos $NEW_SERVER:~/.local/share/convos'
  5. The last step is actually multiple steps, but documenting it as one to illustrate that it should be done at the same time. The first thing you have to do before running the commands below is to update your DNS records. After that is done, you can run these commands:

    # Stop convos on the old server
    ssh $OLD_SERVER 'sudo docker stop $(sudo docker ps -q)'
    # Copy over the few files that might have changed in the meanwhile
    ssh $OLD_SERVER 'rsync -va ~/.local/share/convos $NEW_SERVER:~/.local/share/convos'
    # Start all the stopped Docker containers
    ssh $NEW_SERVER 'sudo docker start $(sudo docker ps -q -a)'
    # Check that Convos is running
    ssh $NEW_SERVER 'curl -s -H "Host:" http://localhost' | grep 'convos:'
    curl -s -H "Host:" http://$NEW_SERVER | grep 'convos:'
    curl -s -H | grep 'convos:'

    In addition to the two curl-commands from step #2, I also check that the DNS records have been updated. This might take some time, so don't panic if the last step fails. Double check with dig or some other tool to see if the DNS was indeed correctly changed.


Moving Convos is not very hard, but setting up TLS/SSL and making sure backups run makes hosting applications harder. Setting up TLS/SSL is luckily easier than ever: Have a look at SSL Support using an ACME CA for a starting point. When it comes to backups, you can simply start by using rsync to copy the $CONVOS_HOME to a different location/server using a periodic cron job.


Below are the most important parts of the docker-compose and user_data files, but with some private details taken out.


The docker-compose file below sets up Convos, nginx-proxy (as a reverse web proxy) and ergo (a modern IRC server). daemon.

version: "3"

    container_name: convos
    restart: always
      - [email protected]
      - CONVOS_MAX_UPLOAD_SIZE=50000000
      - VIRTUAL_PORT=3000
      - '/home/convos/.local/share/convos:/data'

    container_name: ergo
      - '6697:6697'
    restart: always
      - '/home/convos/.local/share/ergo:/ircd'

    image: nginxproxy/nginx-proxy:alpine
    container_name: nginx_proxy
    restart: always
      - '80:80'
      - '443:443'
      - /var/run/docker.sock:/tmp/docker.sock:ro

In addition to the script below, you might want to consider doing this:

The following script can be copy/pasted into the "User data" text field when creating a Droplet:


# Distro: Ubuntu 21.10
# Plan: Shared CPU Basic
# Hardware: Premium AMD with NVMe SSD, smallest and cheapest option
# [x] IPv6
# [x] User data
# [x] Monitoring
# [x] SSH keys

apt-get -y update;
apt-get -y upgrade;
apt-get -y autoremove;
apt-get -qqy install ack-grep aufs-tools gcc etckeeper cpanminus curl fail2ban libio-socket-ssl-perl mlocate rsync tmux ufw vim unzip wget;

[ -e /etc/systemd/system/do-agent.service ] \
  || curl -sSL | sudo bash;

[ -d '/etc/.git' ] || etckeeper init;

ufw status | grep -q '^22'  || ufw allow 22;
ufw status | grep -q '^443' || ufw allow 443;
ufw status | grep -q '^80'  || ufw allow 80;
ufw status | grep -q 'inactive' && ufw --force enable

[ -x /usr/bin/docker ] || apt-get install -qqy docker-compose;
systemctl start docker.service;
systemctl start docker.socket;